Why does the maker of the $5 Bota Box understand rose while so many others don’t?
The Bota Box rose, which costs the equivalent of $5 a bottle, is as good a cheap rose as there is on the market. How is this possible, given all the evidence that no one wants to buy $5 wine any more, as well as the fact that so much $5 wine is so terrible? And that so much rose, whether from Big Wine or “artisan” producers and targeted at the rose boom, is overpriced, not well made, or not especially rose-like?
Somehow, Delicato, the Big Wine house behind the Bota box rose ($18 for a 3-liter box, sample, 11.5%) has created a cheap dry rose that is exactly that. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing, with watermelon and strawberry fruit. Yes, it’s a little thin in the back and there’s an almost bitter tannic thing lurking in the finish, but neither of those should stop anyone from drinking it. Buy it, chill it in the refrigerator, and enjoy it.
In this, the Bota Box rose is so much better than I thought it would that I’m embarrassed to admit it. I didn’t expect it to be dry, and it was, as dry as any high-end Provencal pink. I didn’t expect it to taste like rose, and it did – even more than those pricey California roses made to taste like red wine, with tannins and 14.5 percent alcohol. I didn’t expect to like it, and I really did – so much that the more I drank, the more I started thinking about it as a Hall of Fame wine.
So what does Delicato understand that so many others don’t?
• There is still a market for quality cheap wine, and that premiumization is a much more sophisticated concept than most producers are willing to admit – or even understand. I’m convinced premiumization may not be as much about price as it is about quality, where consumers want better wine and not just more expensive wine.
• Big Wine is putting more effort into boxed wine, where it sees an opportunity to use its trademark cheap grapes even more efficiently. The Bota Box rose is made with zinfandel, petite sirah, and what Delicato calls floral varietals, so white grapes. That’s hardly a classic combination, and I don’t think I want to know the winemaking that went on to make it taste like rose. But it works.
• Someone at Delicato, at least for this vintage, cares about rose. The company could have made a less sweet white zinfandel knockoff, and who would have have noticed? Hopefully, that approach will continue next vintage.